Goldendoodle Ollie Saves the Life of Noted Nashville Guitarist/Songwriter


For years, Ed King didn’t have a care in the world, admittedly did drugs in his younger days and was caught up in the frenzy and travel surrounded by being the lead guitarist for the famed Lynyrd Skynyrd band in the 1970s, before leaving the group in 1975.

goldendoodle ed king

At the Dog Groomery in Nashville, Ed King and his wife, Sharon, relax with their English Goldendoodles, Petey, left, and Ollie. (Photo Courtesy of Ed King)

He rejoined the Southern rock bunch in 1987 when it reunited but was forced to leave in 1995 due to congestive heart failure. A terrific songwriter, he co-wrote the hit, “Sweet Home Alabama” while with the band. Less stress, less travel and improved living conditions enabled King to move forward smoothly until 2010, when his health deteriorated and he was put on a heart wait list at Vanderbilt Medical Center.

Pre Lynyrd Skynyryd, he was a founding member and guitarist for the Los Angeles-based band, Strawberry Alarm Clock, in the mid ‘60s. “Those were hard-living days,” he admits. “Kinda living on the edge most of the time.”

But all that’s changed. Today, the 67-year-old is retired, residing on two acres in the Nashville suburb of Old Hickory with his wife, Sharon, and their two best friends, English Goldendoodles, Ollie and Petey.

On Jan. 21, 2012 he received a heart transplant and remained in the ICU for 100 days. During the long stay, his limbs atrophied, resulting in an inability to lift anything of consequence or walk.

Upon returning home in a wheelchair, he was greeted by his two older dogs, a border collie and a mixed breed. One died soon after and the other passed last year.

“Even though friends advised against it, Sharon thought it would be smart to get a young dog to interact with me and encourage me to get up and get moving,” says King.

goldendoodle ed king

The State of Alabama sent King, co-writer of the hit song, “Sweet Home Alabama,” this state sign. Ollie, left, and Petey seem pretty happy with the gift. (Photo Courtesy of Ed King)

She researched a number of kennels in the Southeast before settling on the Smeraglia Kennel in Robertsdale, Alabama, which breeds English Goldendoodles, an English Golden Retriever/Poodle mix with a “Teddy Bear” head and a non-shedding coat.

“We talked it over,” recalls Sharon King, “and decided this was the perfect dog for us. The kennel has a great track record and is known for training both therapy and service dogs. I saw the photo of Ollie on the website and figured someone else owned him. When I got on the phone with the owners, I was told he was available, so I simply pulled out my credit card and purchased him right there. I just had a feeling he was meant for us.” Ollie was air-transported from Alabama to Nashville soon after.

Through the recovery process, King was admittedly in a funk and needed someone or something to push him forward. Eight-weeks-old Ollie, who was born on Cinco de Mayo, arrived July 7, 2012. What followed was akin to dark clouds giving way to bright sunshine.

“From the moment he walked into our house, he didn’t miss a beat,” says the musician. “He bonded quickly with our older dogs and became my constant companion and comforter. Quite frankly, I am not certain I would have made it through the two-year recovery process without him. He basically saved my life!

goldendoodle ed king

At Carter Vintage Guitars in Nashville, King films a Google TV ad with Ollie. (Photo Courtesy of Ed King)

“His upbeat attitude is infectious. He took the focus off of me during that emotional bumpy ride and made everything about us. And he made me laugh every day, which was therapeutic, too.”

King rates the 45-pound Ollie’s major attributes as highly intuitive, gentle and attentive.

After the couple’s second older dog died in 2015, they purchased Petey, another Goldendoodle from the Alabama kennel. In fact, the dogs have a common father.

“We chose Petey because we heard that two were better than one,” laughs King. “This time we drove down to the Gulf Coast (445 miles) to pick him up. They have been inseparable since Day 1. True buddies.”

The Kings take them everywhere. Their chief outside activity is boating, as they live on the Cumberland River. “They love the boat,” he adds, “and like any Velcro dogs, they just want to be close to both us all the time.”

While the Ollie and Petey Show features plenty of entertainment and breezy, unassuming charm, these life-changing doodles reflect a sharp-edged insight, intoxicating blend of passion and resilient can-do spirit. In other words, just what the doctor ordered.


Feature slider photos courtesy of Ed King



  1. Geri Jensen Scott on

    The Art of Healing~Laying on of ‘paws’….. great job Ollie and Petey.
    Beautiful story Ed and SharonThank you.
    Geri (RN)

  2. Awesome story. Glad to hear the writer of my favorite tune of all time is doing well and still pickin.

  3. Golendoodles are an amazing breed. They show us loyalty, friendship and humour on a daily basis, your story is a testiment to that. We have Murphy a 7 year old Doodle that is a part of our lives in a big way, like family.
    Love those G.Ds

  4. Congratulations on the full recovery & the inspiration from your furbabies. They mean more than most people even know.

  5. Great story an so glad your doing well Ed, I miss my dog Oscar it’s been 3 years an I had him 18 years an I also miss him every day he was like my child, (FLIP)

  6. i love to read this.
    so glad, ed is doin’ good.
    all our love
    george + CeCi in europe

  7. Very sweet story! We’ve had our Smeraglia Goldendoodle Lani for almost 11 years and could not have asked for a better furry family member. They make wonderful companions and lifesavers. I wish you continued good health and thank you for your wonderful music.

  8. My wife and I have a Goldendoodle, and couldn’t be happier. I’m the singer and third guitarist in the band Highway Jones, we play a lot of your material, Ed. This Saturday at our next show, I’ll dedicate “Sweet Home Alabama” to you and your dogs. Best wishes and thanks. Ps, I’m also a member of The Les Paul Forum.

  9. Ed, great story share, yes dogs are our life safers & constant companions in times of physical illness & recovery. . . Truly God sent!

  10. Neil Silverman on

    Wow, just happened across this article – I knew Ed a long time – though not too close but was a time we played music practiced in a couple cemetery’s long ago… I wonder how Ollie and Petey are ? And hope Sharon is well. Rest in peace E.K.

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